Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn: The Queen Bee of the 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca'
“In 1997, Sally’s strong desire to become a top notch in Arts and Theater performance, made her travel to Europe, precisely Switzerland, a country famous for its first class banking and good standard of living in the world. TRAINING IN SWITZERLAND By the end of 1997, Sally Kanbonaba, chalked another success, she graduated from Lugarno; the world’s famous dancing school as a professional dancer.” Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn www.montecarloghana.com
I remember running away to Zurich (Switzerland) a hundred years ago –to get over a broken heart and stumbling across the world of wannabe 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca’. I had gone to chill-out with a family friend [I will call her Jan] –and was so disappointed to find this [very] beautiful sister stressed and joyless [and even though she was the life and soul of the party in London; –in Zurich, she was positively cold –stone cold]. Thankful she decided to introduce me to some of her friends –and one of the ladies happened to be her hairdresser [let’s call her Cinthy].
Cinthy -it transpired was the beginning and the end of ‘Black Switzerland’. The first black woman to have her own hairdressers in the centre of Zurich’s chichi fashion district [no small feat ooO], – my fellow Ghanaian sister had the type of contacts, the Mafia would be jealous of. And what Cinthy didn’t know about the good people of Zurich –wasn’t worth knowing. As the only Hot black hairdressers, –she was privy to ‘gosssssssip-p-p [the type, the Bible warns you about] and did not spare me -any details. I spent the last week and a half in her salon –and there was never a dull moment. In those days Zurich was all about Ghanaian; Cameroonian, Nigerian and Senegalese women [and a handful of Costa Rican and Brazilian ladies] –and ‘Third World’ ambition….
Fabulous days filled with ‘Hot African Gossip’ [there’s no gossip quiet like African gossip -folks] –and nights spent in clubs like, The Petite Prince –and bars like the Rex [a cigar bar] – have all left an indelible mark.
I remember sitting in sister Cinthy’s salon one hot afternoon –and watching in awe as an uber skinny Cameroonian woman [nobody eats in Zurich] –jumped out of her turbo [4x4] –and walk into the salon [catlike] in all her ‘I-am-in-Europe’ glory [all tight polyester top and trouser combo] –carrying a large leather travel bag. With her 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' beauty [paid for red skin, big weave-on, ‘God-will-see-me-through’ nails and ‘mummy-needs-medicine’ red lipstick etc], - she walked into the salon [African stylee], -crouched on the floor and emptied the bag – creating a mountain out of fresh, crisp Swiss notes [no coins for this cat!]. Well I never! In her broken Franglais she told her story [I was the only one who didn’t understand] -and the rest of the women smiled [and what a sight, because apart from Cinthy -none of the other sisters smiled]. Some time later Cinthy explained that our uber thin sister [you alone be winner ooOO] had paid a visit to her [special] friend [all special friends in Zurich are old white men] –and he had given her some money to go shopping [nudge, nudge, wink, wink] –and thus my lessons in the workings of the wannabe 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' had begun. But it was not all about special friends –the sisters, Cinthy and I -had some serious fun.
I have fond memories of myself, Cinthy and some of the others dancing in one hot night club –and an old [white] gentlemen coming up to dance with me, –and me giving him the ‘please-leave-me-alone’ look. –And Cinthy and the others scolding me, -telling me to be a “clever girl” and “dance with him” –and “didn’t I know -he was a rich man”! –Off cause I’m older now –and sometimes I wish I had danced that old man [hehehee] –but back then, as a British born Ghanaian gal, –I had none of their needs. I didn’t have to send money back home; I didn’t have to pay school fees, or buy medicine or feed an entire family… and I sooo didn’t need ‘anybody’ to save me [well not then, and certainly not an old white men]. I did meet a very wealthy young Jewish guy who –later became a bit more than a friend but that’s another story –for another time [heheheehe].
I have on a number of occasions wondered what would have happened if I had become that ‘clever girl’ -Cinthy and the others wanted me to be! Would I have my own magazine -now? And it was whilst I was pondering this very question last week, -that I stumbled across the latest photographs of Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn –and I just had to celebrate her.
Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is fierce! -And if Madame Chantel Biya is the ‘First lady’ of ‘winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' –then Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is the Queen Bee of 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' [please refer to past post about Madame Chantel Biya]. Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is a formidable, focused and ambitious lady. With her ‘winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' beauty; her ‘I-can-afford’ dress sense, -Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is the very embodiment of Queen Bee of 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca'. Sally lived for some time in Switzerland, –and I provably bumped into her -on a number of occasions on my many nights out in Zurich [because after my first trip –I went back and forth for years [staying for months at a time with my ‘new’ friends, –dossing about as we put it in north London] but like all ‘winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' she doesn’t have a past.
As a business wow-man, Sally owns a fashion boutique, a restaurant and off cause -the infamous ‘Monte Carlo’ Night Club in Accra (Ghana, West Africa) [yes, the name of the night club says it all, -sister Sally and her husband also reside in Monte Carlo], - Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is part of the ‘I-can-afford’ classes of Ghana. And even though she has the ubiquitous European name of the Ghanaian upper-class [i.e. Casely-Hayford, Spio-Garbrah, DeGraft-Johnson etc] Kleyn I’m afraid she is not one of them. No, -Africa’s Queen Bee de jour is very much part of the nouveau riche, the new ‘what-is-happening-to-Ghana/Nigeria/Senegal’ class. Our Sally; does, wears, says whatever she wants –because unlike the ordinary women of Africa –the ‘winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' are in a class of their own. And even though our sally might have the ubiquitous European husband, the humble beginnings [our Sally hails from northern Ghana, the driest, poorest and most deserted part of the country] and dresses the part [how do these women manage to make designer dresses look like that?] –Sally, like Madame Chantel Biya is a winner, -the winner of all winners.
*Note, if you were privy to Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn’s story, -you too would marvel at her triumph. You too would wonder how in the name of fashion -did a young Sally manage to leave Ghana, –travel to Switzerland as her, “strong desire to become a top notch in Arts and Theater performance, made her travel to Europe, precisely Switzerland, a country famous for its first class banking and good standard of living in the world” etc. -Yes we must celebrate her! We must celebrate Sally as she continues to shock conservative Ghana [a country full of ‘butterflies and Peacocks] –with her wealth; her vast array of cars [a Hummer, Range Rover, Mercedes, an Escalate and counting] and her love of all things expensive,” "unfortunately or fortunately I developed very expensive taste for fashion. Everything to do with things around me, from furniture to clothes is authentic and expensive,” –including her love for Christian Dior, Gucci, and Roberto Cavalli et al.
Personally, I love Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn [we both have an ‘ex friend’ in common]. I am excited by her ambition. Her need to win, her need to give back to the people [she has’ “adopted a maternity ward at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital where I have relieved some of the mothers who are not able to pay their medical bills”] and her need to be at the forefront of Ghana"s hospitality industry – helping to promoting tourism in Ghana. You go girl xx